At the end of His challenging teaching we call The Sermon on The Mount, Jesus summarises it all with a little story. It’s one some of us know well from a children’s song. Remember singing,
‘And the rains came down and the floods went whoosh…’?
There is a key phrase in this story for Jesus followers to note. It’s to both listen to His words - and then apply them in our lives. And it’s about what happens when storms come to people who do neither of those things.
The storm has come.
I have a friend called Dave. He’s a nice guy but Dave has always poured scorn on the concept of God. His young children say; ‘Oh my god, ‘whenever they want to show surprise because that’s what daddy says. Dave maintains that God is irrelevant, if He exists at all. He dismisses my beliefs.
Dave has a successful small DIY business. Last year he took the family to Disneyland Florida for a holiday.
Today Dave is worried sick. He has no work. All his bookings have been cancelled. He doesn’t think he qualifies for government aid and has just enough savings to keep the roof over his head for three months. Then what happens?
The storm has come.
COVID-19 is changing our world. The very foundations upon which people have built their lives are being shaken. The things that we relied on are suddenly less secure.
Jesus says; “Hear My words and obey them." (Matthew 7:24)
“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words are for ever.”
Though we know it not. His words are the bedrock of our society. They are the foundation that stands whatever comes.
As the walls collapse around us we are seeing the fragility of the ‘God-substitutes’ with which we have filled our lives; all that we live for; making money and spending it; sport; fitness; leisure, endless holidays and accumulating all the stuff we can.
We jet off to New York for the odd weekend, regardless of the cost to our pocket or the planet. We indulge in fine-dining or tea and cakes at the expense of our waistlines while so many starve and long for the crumbs from our table.
We walk past the lady selling the Big Issue in the rain as we head for the bank to check our latest balance pretending not to see the rough sleepers huddled against the cold in the shop doorways.
Jesus is saying, “Hear My words. Listen to Me…and live by them.”
It is time to turn to Him, time to seek His help, His forgiveness, His compassion, His love. When He came the first time to show us what God is like, He came as a builder. He’s good at restoring ruins.
In Isaiah 42 we read, ‘Behold My servant, whom I uphold. He will bring forth judgement to the nations. He will not cry out or cause His voice to be heard in the street. “A bruised reed He will not break, a smoking flax He will not quench.”
Whatever we think about Jesus, He is The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords. He is The Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and end.
He is there to be found when we seek Him. His heart is to heal the wounded and mend the broken, to love the marginalised and the rejected.
Psalm 46:11 says; ‘Be still and know that I am God. I shall be exalted among the nations.'
In these days of self-isolation, when the world has slowed down to a walking pace, it is time to listen again to His voice. Time to rethink our values, to renew our respect for Almighty God and to seek His face amidst adversity. Time to re-align ourselves, to find that close relationship, created and Creator, to be where we belong.
Micah 6:8. ‘And what does God require of you? To do justice. To love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
The storm has come. How will we respond?
2 Chronicles 7:14. ’If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I shall hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and I will heal their land.’
Angie Jones writes for local magazines in East Anglia and her first book entitled Walks in the Slow Lanes of Suffolk is published by Sigma Press